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Princely State of Mysore

Mysore State



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The Kingdom of Mysore (1399–1947 AD) was traditionally believed to have been founded in 1399 in the vicinity of the modern city of Mysore. The kingdom, which was ruled by the Wodeyar family, initially was a vassal state of the Vijayanagara Empire. With the decline of the Vijayanagara Empire (c.1565), the kingdom became independent. The 17th century saw a steady expansion of its territory and, under Narasaraja Wodeyar I (1638-’59) and Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar (1673-1704), the kingdom annexed large expanses of what is now southern Karnataka and parts of Tamil Nadu to become a powerful state in the southern Deccan.

The kingdom reached the height of its military power and dominion in the latter half of the 18th century under the de facto ruler Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan. During this time, it came into conflict with the Marathas, the British and the Nizam of Hyderabad which culminated in the four Anglo-Mysore wars. Success in the first two Anglo-Mysore wars was followed by defeat in the third and fourth. Following Tipu's death in the fourth war of 1799, large parts of his kingdom were annexed by British, which signalled the end of a period of Mysorean hegemony over southern Deccan. The British, however, restored the Wodeyars to their throne by way of a subsidiary alliance and a diminished Mysore was now transformed into a Princely state. The Wodeyars continued to rule the state until Indian independence in 1947, when Mysore acceded to the Union of India.

Karnataka is since 1973 the new name for the State of Mysore, founded in 1956 by the State Reorganisation Act. This state consisted of the former Kingdom of Mysore, the British Indian province of Coorg, a part of Madras and the southern districts of Bombay, and the principalities of Jamkhandi, Mudhol and Sandur.

Rulers of Mysore

Vijayanagara Empire (1399-1565)



Chamaraja Wodeyar


Timmaraja Wodeyar I


Chamaraja Wodeyar II


Chamaraja Wodeyar III


Independent Wodeyar Kings


Timmaraja II


Chamaraja Wodeyar IV


Chamaraja Wodeyar V


Raja Wodeyar I


Chamaraja Wodeyar VI


Raja Wodeyar II


Narasaraja Wodeyar I


Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar


Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar


Narasaraja Wodeyar II


Krishnaraja Wodeyar I


Chamaraja Wodeyar VII


Krishnaraja Wodeyar II


Haider Ali


Tipu Sultan


Nanjaraja Wodeyar


Chamaraja Wodeyar VIII


Chamaraja Wodeyar VIII


Chamaraja Wodeyar IX


British Rule (1799-1947)

Krishnaraja Wodeyar III


Chamarajendra Wodeyar X


Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV


Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar


The achievement of Karnataka is derived from the achievement of the Kingdom of Mysore.




Maisur / Mysore





1673 - 1704 Rajadhiraja Paramaswara Sri Virapratapa, Birud-antemdara-ganda, Dharani Varaha, Nanamakuta Mandalikara Ganda, Muru-manneya-ganda, Para-raya-bhayankara, Hindu-raya-suratrana, Apratima-vira, Raja Jagadev, Maharaja Sri Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar, Maharaja of Mysore.

Granted the title of Raja Jagadev and recognised as ruler of the Carnatic by Emperor Aurangzeb, 1700.



Photograph of early miniature painting of Chikka Devaraja, ruler of Mysore from 1673 to 1704. From C. Hyavadana Rao's History of Mysore, Government Printing Press, Bangalore, India, 1943.


However, soon after 1687, the Mughals under Aurangzeb (1658-1707) invaded the region and, having conquered the Maratha-Bijapur province of Carnatic-Bijapur-Balaghat (of which Bangalore was a part), made it a part of the Mughal province of Sira. The payment for Bangalore was consequently made to Qasim Khan, the Mughal Faujdar Diwan of Sira and through him Chikka Devaraja "assiduously cultivated an alliance" with Aurangzeb. He also soon turned his attention to the regions to his south which were less the objects of Moghul interest. The regions around Baramahal and Salem below the Eastern Ghats were now annexed to Mysore, and in 1694 were extended by the addition of regions to the west up to the Baba Budan mountains. Two years later Chikka Devaraja attacked the lands of the Naik of Madura and laid a siege of Trichinopoly. Soon, however, Qasim Khan, his Mughal liaison, died. With the intention of either renewing his Mughal connections or seeking Mughal recognition of his southern conquests, Chikka Devaraja sent an embassy to Aurangzeb, at Ahmad-nagar.


In response, in 1700, the Mughal emperor sent the Mysore Raja a signet ring Seal "bearing the title Jug Deo Raj" (literally, "lord and king of the world" = Raja Jagadev), and permission to sit on an ivory throne, and also a Sword from Aurangzeb's personal Regalia, the Pattada Katti, a Firangi (sword), with Gold Etching on the Hilt, to be used as a Sword of State by the Mysore Raja, while seated on the Ivory Throne.”


Chikka Devaraja at this time also reorganized his administration into eighteen departments, in “imitation of what the envoys had seen at the Mughal court.” When the Raja died on November 16, 1704, his dominions extended from Midagesi in the north to Palni and Anaimalai in the south, and from Kodagu and Balam in the west to Baramahals in the east.


Krishnaraja Wodeyar II


1724–‘32 / 1734-‘66


Haidar Ali



The family came to prominence under Tipu's father, Hyder 'Ali, an illiterate soldier of fortune who entered the service of the Hindu Raja of Mysore. A military genius, he rose to high commands under his masters, and for his efforts received extensive lands, honours and offices. Through guile and intrigue, he established control over the whole administration of the state, effectively seizing power in 1761 through appointment to the office of Sarvadhikari. He increased his powers further when the old Maharaja died, leaving three minor sons. The eldest of these succeeded under a regency headed by Hyder, who poisoned of his charge four years later, just before the regency was due to end. His younger brother followed, only to suffer the same fate. A third regency followed when a young scion of the family succeeded through adoption by the mother of the recently two deceased, childless princes.


Tipu Sultan



Tipu Sultan succeeded his father as Savadhikari in 1782. No less of a military genius and tactician, Tipu had already gained fame under his father and received exalted presents and honours from the Nizam of Hyderabad. Brought up in princely style, he saw himself as a great ruler and world conqueror. His administration set about eradicating Hindu influence throughout the region, traditional rulers were deposed, dispossessed or murdered and their territories seized, place names changed to Islamic derivatives, Muslim laws declared paramount, conversions "encouraged", a new calendar invented. Seing no use in continuing the charade of a regency, he deposed the Maharaja in 1786, assumed complete power and renamed his state Khudadad. Within a year, he had thrown off any semblance of allegiance to the Mughal Emperor, substituted his own name at Friday prayers, and proclaimed himself Padshah, declaring that the Emperor was now a prisoner of Scindia and a mere cipher.

Unfortunately for Tipu, his rise to power coincided with the struggle for power between two great European rivals, Britain and France. India, no less than other parts of the world, provided a backdrop for this context, and Tipu's choice of ally, proved the loser. After many years of battle, in which great territories were won and defeats inflicted on the British, his end came in ignominious defeat in 1799. He died in battle trying to defend his fort of Serigapatam, after its defences had been breached by British arms.




In the time of Tipu Sahib a sun radiant occurs which can be considered to be the symbol of the realm of  Mysore. We have examples of such a such radiant on documents where it is defaced with the tughra of Tipu Sahib. Also he bore a sun radiant on his shield and on his standard.

The sun-symbol is also known from the Mughal empire, Rajastan (Mewar) and the Maratha empire. Sometimes it is charged with the head of a Hindu-god which in the exmple below is replaced by the tughra of the god of the Muslims. Also, the sun, be it radiant or not, is an almost universal symbol of a realm, its origins reaching back to the ancient Mesopotamian empires.


Letterhead of Tipu Sultan with sun radiant

Letter of 5 Aug 1791 from Tipu Sultan to the Shringeri Jagadguru

 Obverse: Tipu’s insignia – blazing Sun with Tiger stripe rays and ‘Bismillah’ calligraphy inside.


“In the name of Allah”


Tipu Sahib on horseback with sun-screen and umbrella, 1780

Pollilur Mural. Museum Islamic Art,  Doha, Qatar


Such sun-screens are also known from other Indian princely states. Here the screen is almond shaped with a sun radiant on a blue field  surrounded by the tiger stripes of Tipu. Below is a red folded cloth hanging down.

Shield of Tipu Sahib with sun radiant and floral motivs [1]


Coin of Tipu Sahib  with elephant and sun-flag


Flag: A sun radiant in the centre, with [green] tiger stripes [on a red field].




The beast symbolizing the rank of sultan of Tipu was a peacock, called a hûmah in Mysore. It was on the top of his throne


Royal Bird (hûmah) from Tipu Sultan’s throne.

Indian (Mysore) 1787-91 Presented to George III  [2]


The throne was described by Thomas Marriot lieutenant and aide the camp of Commander in Chief Wiliiam George Harris  at Seringapatam. About the bird is noted:


On the top of the canopy is the figure of a Bird representing the fabulous oriental Bird of Royalty called the Hûmah: it consists almost entirely of diamonds, rubies & emeralds. The Gold in which they are set being imperceptible except behind the Tail.


In fact Tipu’s throne is a peacock throne and inspired by the Mughal peacock throne on which, however, there were four peacocks. The peacock is an ancient emblem of the ruler, which has developed to a simurg in persian culture and to a feng (phoenix) in chinese culture. The peacock (pavo) was also known in ancient Rome where it was the symbol of a prefect. In this case the hûmah is the symbol of dignity of a sultan (of Mysore).

The peacock was also the symbol of later ruling Wodeyars of Mysore and was also placed on top of the umbrellas of their thrones.


The defeat and death of Tipu, Sultan of Mysore, and the sack of his citadel of Seringapatam in 1799 put an end to more than a decade of conflict in southern India, and pre-empted a possible military alliance between Tipu and Napoleon Bonaparte. In the heat of the action the Sultan’s magnificent treasury and library were ransacked by the British forces, and the gold coverings of his throne were cut up into small pieces for distribution as prizes. More


Tipu Sultan’s peacock’s saddle

State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg




The symbol of the military rank of Tipu was a tiger which brought him the nickname ‘Tiger of Mysore’. Likely the tiger was not meant to be the symbol of the highest military rank in Mysore  which seems to have been a lion. That beast however, has to be associated with the 19th century wodeyars, thus styling themselves ‘supreme commander’. Indeed, in chinese military hiërarchy a tiger (hu) is the badge of the fourth military rank after the qilin, the lion (shizi) and the leopard (bao). [3] A similiar system of badges of rank had existed in Sassanian Persia. [4]


Tipu's adoption of the tiger motif as a personal emblem took several forms. The most obvious examples include the distinctive stylised tiger stripe, commonly referred to as babri, from babr, (meaning 'tiger'); and the decorative tiger head. Examples of the babri motif can still be seen on the inner walls of the Gumbaz mausoleum where there is a complete adornment of the yellow walls with red stripes.

Tiger on Tipus swordblade [5]



The tiger head, on the other hand, is represented in two separate calligraphic representations. The first monogram or cypher is a square design, known as tughra where the seal made up of the name 'Tipu Sultan' in the shape of a tiger's head.


The second example (shown here) is far more ornate and is based upon a style of Arabic calligraphy known as khatt mukabil or khatt ma-kus, meaning a line inverted or reverted. In this case, the monogram of Tipu is the calligraphic merging of the two words Bismillah, and Muhammed. 'Bismillah' is the name of Allah and is derived from the invocatory verse in the Quran: Bismillah-ir-Rahman-nir-Rahim ('In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful'); while the name of the Prophet Muhammed is written in the khatt mukabil style of calligraphy. To the untrained eye the words are not readily apparent being overlaid with calligraphic curves, scrolls, decorative lines, ascenders and descenders. The calligraphic tiger motif also includes the epithet asad allah ul-ghalib (the victorious lion of God); and examples of its use can be found on a banner of Tipu Sultan, as well as on some of his military arms and armaments.



Tiger’s head from Tipu’s throne


Tipu’s sword with tiger hilt




Yaar Mohammad - Tipu's Lion

Yaar Mohammad was born in 18th century, in a Muslim Rajput family to Shah Noor Mohammad. He joined the Army of Mysore and soon became one of the favorite generals of Tippu Sultan. Seeing his patriotic and dauntless behavior, Tippu Sultan made him his Commander-in-Chief. He fought dauntlessly in the Battle of Seringapatam (1799), but after Tipu's death, and later the fall of Mysore, he had to run away. However, he managed to evade capture by the British. After the fall of Mysore, he was declared one of the most wanted Mysore officers. They tried their best to capture him, dead or alive, but couldn’t succeed. General Yaar Mohammad's family members and relatives were killed by the British, however, he, along with his father Shah Noor Mohammad and son Ilahi Baksh, escaped. They spent the rest of their lives as fugitives. General Yaar Mohammad died in early 19th century. His descendants still live in Punjab today.




In Mysore the elephant is celebrated at the Dasara festival when the idol of Chamundeshwari, the patron goddes of Mysore, placed on a golden mantapa is carried in procession on the top of a decorated elephant. Also the elephant was the mount of the ruler and a symbol of royal splendor and not only in Mysore. As the elephant is on its coins, it may have been an emblem symbolizing the state of Mysore, being the vehicle of the ruler, or of the head of state. In the time of Tipu Sultan and his immediate successors the acting head of state was Dewan Purnaiah, in  office from 1782-1812.


Tippu Sultan riding an elephant

at the battle of Pollilur. 1780

Pollilur Mural. Museum Islamic Art,  Doha, Qatar



Princely State of Mysore



Mummadi Krishnaraja

Dewan Purnaiya


Regent 1799-1810


After Tipu's defeat and death in 1799, the Princely State of Mysore was created by the East India Company and was restored to the Wodeyar dynasty. Other conquered lands returned to the Rajas of Travancore, Coorg, and Cochin, while still other territories were annexed by the HEIC. Tipu’s family were removed to Vallore, where they were restricted to the town and surrounding countryside, but otherwise allowed to move freely. A mutiny by the garrison troops of the Madras army resulted in the proclamation of Fath Hyder Sultan, as Raja in 1806. There were reports that Fath Hyder's younger brother, Muiz ud-din, was implicated in the rebellion but this was later proved to be innaccurate. In any event, this prompted the government to remove most of the family to the safety of Calcutta. There, they received pensions, several mansions and some lands, but lived as important nobles, not as ruling princes.


Mysore coins1799-1810

Mysore coins 1799-1868


The lion is the symbol of the commander-in-chief and the elephant (= vehicle of the ruler) of the chief minister (Sarvadhikari)


A Prince of the House of Mysore, His Horse and Attendants

Mysore, South India, circa 1850 A.D.

Watercolour on gesso on panel 46 by 38 cm., framed


On the right a sun-screen within a crescent of fringes. This screen may be the continuation of the sun-screen of Tipu Sultan. Such screens were quite common for the Indian royalty.


Mysore crown, 18th century

Coll. Maharaja of Mysore


As there is no portrait of any ruler or regent of Mysore we may safely accept that such a crown was worn by the Goddess Chamundeshwari during the yearly Dasara-procession in Mysore. Most intersting of this crown is the achievement consisting of a full moon surrounded by stars and supported by two lions sejant affronté.

This may have been meant to be the achievement of Mysore and, because such an achievement is typically British, may date from the time of British rule. However, this achievement was abandoned when the British goverment granted an achievement to Mysore at the Durbar in Delhi in 1877.


Mysore Achievement on crown


In this achievement the moon may be the symbol of the state, the stars the symbols of the Asofis (provinces)  and the lions the symbols of the commander in chief.

This achievement is not known from any other source.


á In the time of Tipu Sultan there were 37 Asofis, the number of which may have been reduced to the 30 as counted in the achievement after the loss of certain parts of the Kingdom in 1799.


Æ See: Administration of the Kingdom of Mysore


Direct British Rule



Queen Victoria Royal Achievement

Preserved by Indira Ghandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Mysore


Mysore coin with lion, 1834


After 1833 the coins of 20, 25 and 40 Cash with an elephant disappear.



Chamarajendra Wodiyar X



At the occasion of the Durbar of Delhi in 1877 an achievement british style was designed by Robert Taylor, Master of Arts, a graduate from Cambridge University and an employee of the Bengal Civil Service. [6] It was as follows:  


Arms: Murray, a ghandaberunda displayed Argent billed and armed Or.

Crest: On a helmet affrontée lambrequined Murray and Argent a lion passant carrying an antelope’s head all proper.

Supporters: Satvas (yali) Sable trapped armed and unguled Or.

Motto: sTymevae¿ raYyh'    (Satyame woddharamyham, I maintain the truth)

(T. 57)

Apparently Taylor was inspired here by a relief in the 17th century Keladi temple representing a ghandaberunda ‘supported’ by lions and elephants, which has to be associated with the rulers from the Vijayanagara Empire (1336-1646), the predecessor of the kingdom of Mysore.


Ghandaberunda with lions and elephants

Keladi Temple from the time of Shivappa Nayaka (reigned 1645–1660) (Karn.).


In his design Taylor combined the lions and elephants to gajasimha’s or elephant-lions, indian mythical beasts. At the same time the elephants and the lions on the Mysore coins from the beginning of the 19th century were thus represented.




Æ See: Two-headed Eagle in India


The enormous power of the Gandhaberunda made him suitable to be a symbol of royal power. His name for that reason occurs in the title of many rulers in Karnataka.


“Historian Prof. P. V. Nanjaraje Urs, who has done a wide research on the Mysore State, tells that the Gandaberunda was first used as a sign on coins in Vijayanagar mints, many coins of which still exist. Since then, the tradition passed on to generations. In mid 16th century, history has it that Yaduraya embarked on a Vijaya Yathra across the Mysore State to consolidate their rank. During the Yathra, an ascetic encountered and gave him a red cloth. The King offered pooja to it and accepted it as a blessing. He won all acclaim thereafter.” 


Mysore Crown, after 1877

Coll. Maharaja of Mysore


When a new achievement was granted to Chamarajendra Wodiyar X a new Dasara procession-crown was probably made, abandoning the old one,  now showing the Gandhaberunda royal emblem.

The royal emblem was also displayed at other occasions.



Royal Banner and shield with achievement after 1881

Amba Vilas Museum, Mysore.


Displayed at the parade for the royal anniversary 1895


Perfume bottle (H. 20 cm.)

Coll. Maharaja of Mysore


Containing the perfume used for bathing the hands and wrists of the Wodeyar at religious ceremonies and weddings.




A Gajasimha is a hybrid of a lion with an elephant’s head.


Gajasimhas at a temple entrance


Unfortunately, there is not much information regarding this hybrid creature, except for its numerous sculptural and painted depictions, mostly found in the temples of South East Asia and South India.




















Throne Leg with an Elephant-Headed Lion (Gajasimha Vyala)


Artist/maker: unknown, Indian

Geography: Made in Odisha, Orissa, India.

Date: c. Mid- 13th century

Medium: Ivory

Dimensions: 34 cm Circumference: (41.3 cm) Base: 13.7 × 14.3 × 12.7 cm

Philadelphia Museum of Art; Curatorial Department: South Asian Art * Gallery 48, Modern and Contemporary Art, ground floor

Accession Number: 1960-96-1

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. John B. Stetson, Jr., 1960


Krishnaraja IV



Arms: Murray, a ghandaberunda displayed Argent billed and armed Or.

Crest: On a helmet affrontée lambrequined Murray and Argent a lion passant carrying an antelope’s head all proper.

Supporters: Satvas (yali) Sable trapped armed and unguled Or.

Motto: sTymevae¿ raYyh' (Satyame woddharamyham, I maintain the truth)


Achievement of Mysore on the façade of the royal palace (1897-1910)


Krishnaraja IV Royal Cypher

On a letter, 1935


Jaya Chamarajendra Wodiyar


Governor  1947-


Signed the instrument of accession 9th August and acceded under certain conditions to the Dominion of India, 15th August 1947. Executed an agreement of merger with India, 23rd January 1950. Installed as Rajpramukh of the State of Mysore 26th January 1950, and continued in that office until 31st October 1956. Governor of Mysore 1st November 1956 to 3rd May 1964.


Embroidered Achievement on the throne of 1940


Arms: Murray, a ghandaberunda displayed Argent billed and armed Or.

Crest: On a helmet affrontée lambrequined Murray and Argent a lion passant carrying an antelope’s head all proper.

Supporters: Satvas (yali) Sable trapped armed and unguled Or.

Motto: sTymevae¿ raYyh'm (Satyame woddharamyham, I maintain the truth)


Mysore State




Arms: Murray, a ghandaberunda displayed Argent billed and armed Or.

Crest: The state emblem of India

Supporters: Satvas (yali) Sable trapped armed and unguled Or.

Motto: sTymevae¿ raYyh'm (Satyame woddharamyham, I maintain the truth)


After the State Reorganisation Act of 1956 the motto was changed into sTymev jyte (Satyameva Jayate)


Achievement of Mysore/Karnataka

On the Vidhana Soudhana Parliament House in Bangalre, completed 1956

Nowadays the sculpture is polychromized and the motto added





Æ See illustration in the head of this essay







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© Hubert de Vries 2016-11-09




[1] From: Tipu Sultan with his royal mistress, Delhi, circa 1850 gouache with gold on paper, inscriptions of identification above, green borders decorated with gilt scrolls, reverse with later inscriptions of identification and ownership painting: 24.8 by 34cm.leaf: 36.5 by 48cm. Sotheby's London, 27 April 1994, lot 134.

[2] 2009-03-04 A gem-encrusted gold finial from the octagonal golden throne of Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore, will be sold at Bonhams New Bond Street on 2nd April. This is one of the most important Tipu items ever to appear for sale. It had lain in an English castle, for at least 100 years and then in a bank vault, unknown to Tipu enthusiasts and scholars. It was discovered by Bonhams Islamic Department on a routine valuation.

[3] I am waiting for a study about  the Indian badges of military rank.

[4] That is to say ibex, lion, leopard, tiger, bear (?) &c.

[5] Picture Licensed by the Trustees of the British Museum © Copyright The British Museum Resource Rights Holder: British Museum, London, Department of Oriental Antiquities: 1878.1101.450

[6] See Pine, L.G.: International Heraldry. David and Charles Newton Abbot. 1970. Pp. 205-215


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